The Easter bunny should be converted from a symbol of chocolate consumption to a healthy
lifestyle advocate, delivering brussels sprouts instead of Easter eggs, according to a humorous
article in the Medical Journal of Australia.
Public health specialist Dr Nathan Grills - who has previously argued that Santa Claus advertises unhealthy products to children and normalises obesity - says it is time to stop using the Easter bunny (EB) to promote energy-dense, nutrient-poor (EDNP) food.
"Although the EB's delivery practices may provide a better role model than Santa's, with its vigorous round-the-world hopping sustained only by carrots, the EB may have a more direct impact on obesity by promoting and distributing EDNP food," Dr Grills said.
"Excess chocolate has been linked to dental caries and obesity, and obesity has been linked to a significantly higher risk of type 2 diabetes, hypertension, gall bladder disease, liver disease, and heart disease and stroke, and to a small increased risk of cancer."
Dr Grills uses a satirical style to raise awareness about more serious issues such as the unregulated marketing of unhealthy products to children.
The EB's role is to sell chocolate to children and, according to the World Health Organization, such advertising contributes to children being overweight and obese and is an important area for preventive action, Dr Grills said.
To change this behaviour, Dr Grills suggests that:
- parents should be educated to protect their children from the deleterious effects of belief in the EB;
- better surveillance should be instituted to measure the EB's impact on public health; and
- EDNP companies should be restrained from employing the EB as their chief marketing consultant to sell unhealthy food to children.
"Chocolate egg hunts could become brussels sprout hunts! After all, the EB itself would advocate for this change, given that bunnies do not digest chocolate particularly well."
The Medical Journal of Australia